::: On the Way Home :::
the New Jersey Parkway is so green that i almost feel like i am on my way to some warped version of Bali. maybe i am, in a way, if i am traveling to another place that feels like home…
i used to have this weird conflict of language usage that would happen whenever i would go and visit my parents. i would say, “i’m going home.” i don’t know that i will ever stop calling it home even though i don’t live there anymore. i grew up there from birth until i left to attend college. it was a happy home—a place that allowed me to grow into the being that i am today. but when i would tell my sister (or others) that i was “going home,” they would be unclear if i meant home to my parents’ house or home to my NYC apartment.
for me, “going home” was all the more a confusing statement because ever since the first time that i visited New York City, i knew i was meant to live there. Katie and her mom took me on a trip for the first time in high school, and it now strikes me as odd that i never went to the city before i was 16 years old (when we only lived less than two hours away). that was the day that Katie got attacked by a trash can flying in the wind and we danced on the big piano at FAO Shwartz. that day has become a sort of encapsulated representation of my entire New York experience.
it took me awhile to get adjusted to New York City once i moved here. i think the old gal has a way of making you work to stay here—you have to prove that you really want to be here if you are going to live in New York. it’s like Ol’ Blue Eyes infamously sang, right? “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. It’s up to you…”
and if you can’t, you either get devoured by her or you leave.
but i found that once i dedicated a certain amount of time and energy to her, she opened herself up to me. like a box of chocolates, New York can be delicious and fun and frivolous. it is in her midst that i have been to some of the most wonderfully extravagant and delightfully odd parties, clubs, restaurants, and entertainment that i could have never imagined possible for my life. like a jewelry box, New York has offered even more valuable gems. the people that i have met and the art that i have had the fortune of being able to see and create is extraordinary. and now i even feel invited inside her—to the places and opportunities and moments that make me feel alive and sustain me, and that inspire me to go out into the world and make it my own. the trick, however, is not to get too comfortable in her womb. it is appealing to stay there in the middle of it—that’s where the nourishment is. but it’s also tumultuous. we are dealing with other elements in there, shaking and swirling around, and there is a time where we are supposed to get out and go stand on our own.
i know i have a habit of getting sucked into this place—even when it’s not comfortable, and especially when it’s not comfortable. it makes me feel like i am rising to some secret challenge. i feel like i am taking care of things or being taken care of, and unless i thrust myself out of it, i can go for eons believing that is true.
birth is scary. some psychologists would say that all of our life’s problems can point back to this defining moment. i just watched the documentary John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band. John Lennon and Yoko went through primal therapy in 1967 after reading psychologist Arthur Janov’s book, The Primal Scream. They used this exploration for their own voices on the album and the result is, in fact, primal. when i listen to it, there is something so compelling in its depth and almost barbaric force. the album is clearly affected by their revelations in the therapy. about his experience, Lennon was quoted saying, “I no longer have any need for drugs, the Maharishi or the Beatles. I am myself and I know why.”
when i think about voice, it brings up many things. when i attended HB Studio for two years, i studied Linklater Technique with Susan Patrick. after eight years, it has become a daily practice for myself as a performer. Linklater’s writings are titled Freeing the Natural Voice, and this does feel oddly representative in the practice of it. it is about tapping into something inside ourselves that many of us suppress in our daily lives for the myriad of reasons that we are socialized to do so. and freeing the voice physically has allowed me to free my voice as an artist as well.
after practicing this method for so long and so consistently, i have now come to realize something deeper about what it means to exercise one’s voice. (don’t get me wrong, though. i have faltered with its continuity at various points, but it is the most consistent conscious physical practice that i have developed.)
as actors and singers, we must train our voices to be able to project on stage or to hit certain notes. but i have come to believe that those more superficial elements of voice actually emanate from a deeper place.
i remember now, that Susan also had us do various exercises like answering this question: “if you had $5000 handed to you on the condition that you spend it on the thing that you wish to do the most, what would it be?” we then had to research said thing and find out how much it cost. then, we detailed a smaller version of that thing that we could do with whatever funds we had at that moment.
for example, i chose horse. i wanted to own a horse. so i researched how much it would cost to buy a horse and take care of it. then, i went and looked up riding lessons and realized i could take a riding lesson. that would bring me one step closer to horse.
horses have become really important in my life. they already were growing up, but even more so now. i am now at my parents’ house, finishing this post. i am sitting in their sunroom as the sun sets for the night. their next door neighbor now owns a horse named Caroline, as well as a new hybrid pony-donkey creature called Terry. the air is filled with the smell of horse and i know that tomorrow i will sneak over there to feed Terry and Caroline carrots. in a sense, i have horse now. most often, getting that which we desire really begins to happen once we let go of any particular attachment to how that will occur.
our wishes tend to manifest once we can identify what they are. i think this process of identification is our voice. it is finding the things that we love and are passionate about, and being able to articulate them. once we can do that, we can work towards getting them. for me, freeing my physical voice helped me access the metaphysical one. and for me, coming home helps me remember who i am and what i love. this place will always be home. but then again, i believe that one can have many homes and we can, at any point, return to any of them and find our selves there.